HR Policy Urges Congress to Consider Key Questions Regarding a Federal Paid FMLA Program

July 23, 2021

As Congress pursues including a paid FMLA program in its infrastructure bill or reconciliation package, the Association encouraged legislators to consider issues and questions we are hearing from member companies related to such a program.

A group of Democratic lawmakers is advocating passage of paid family and medical leave as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package, which is expected to receive a vote before Congress adjourns for the August recess.  Alternatively, if current efforts fail, a paid FMLA proposal could be considered during the reconciliation process early this fall, when Congress returns to D.C. 

Anticipating the development of legislative text, HR Policy Association sent a communication to Congress educating lawmakers on our member companies' concerns related to a potential federal paid FMLA program.  The questions focus on how such a program would coordinate and interact with existing employer and state programs, funding of a federal program, and eligibility determinations. 

If Congress does not pass a federal paid leave program in its infrastructure package, it is likely Democrats will attempt to include such a provision in their budget reconciliation measure, which requires only 50 votes to pass, after Congress reconvenes on September 20.  However, restrictions on what can be included in a reconciliation measure would prevent lawmakers from being able to enact accompanying job protections.  Workers who take advantage of the newly established paid leave and are not covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act would have no guarantee that their jobs would be waiting for them when they return.

Outlook:  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is planning to consider a budget deal and infrastructure package before the Chamber is set to adjourn on Friday, August 6.  It is unclear at this time if the Senate Chamber will have enough votes and legislative calendar days to consider both the budget and infrastructure packages before adjourning.